Are you familiar with wines from the Loire Valley wine region? These fresh, fruity offerings are also incredibly diverse in style, running the gamut from reds, whites and rosés to sparkling wines. Their quality is endorsed by multiple appellations d’origine contrôlée or AOCs.
The Loire Valley, an extensive region producing myriad styles
The Loire Valley wine region is France’s third-largest producer of appellation wines, registered as Unesco World Heritage, from Chalonnes-sur-Loire to Sully-sur-Loire.
Boasting a varied range of vineyard sites, the region covers 57,200 hectares under vine spanning 14 Loire departments.
In fact, the Loire Valley wine route is France’s longest, with 800 kilometres of vineyards to visit.
In addition to its size, the Loire Valley wine region is home to an extensive range of climates, which some refer to as micro-climates. The region’s temperate weather provides a mild winter season and hot, humid summers.
The Loire Valley’s varietal range
The Loire Valley wine region produces 2 million hectolitres of wine annually. The dozen or so grape varieties produce the following styles of wine:
- 36% whites
- 29% rosés
- 20% reds
- 15% quality sparkling wines
What sets Loire Valley wines apart is that they are single varietals.
White Loire Valley wines
There are many white Loire varietals. The range is spearheaded by varieties such as Melon de Bourgogne from which Muscadet wines are made. These include AOC Muscadet, Muscadet-Coteaux-de-la-Loire, Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine and Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu.
Chenin, also referred to as Pineau de Loire, is a grape variety primarily used for producing sweet white wines. For example, appellations including Anjou-Blanc, Coteaux-du-Vendômois and Coteaux-du-Layon are made from Chenin.
Another iconic Loire white variety is Sauvignon. Undoubtedly the most aromatic varietal, it produces wines such as Haut-Poitou and Touraine.
White varietals in the Loire Valley can be fermented to make dry, medium-dry and sweet wines along with sparkling wines.
Red Loire Valley wines
There is also an extensive range of red wines from the Loire Valley. Although the leading Loire reds are made from Cabernet franc, Gamay and Pinot noir, other varieties are also grown across the region. These include Grolleau, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis and Négrette.
The red wines are also single varietals and can be fermented as reds, rosés and sparkling wines.
Loire Valley appellations
The Loire Valley wine region embraces over 85 appellations which can be divided into three main groups:
- Wines from the Nantes region which is home to AOC Fiefs Vendéens, Coteaux d’Ancenis, Gros Plant du Pays Nantais, Muscadet, Côtes de Grandlieu, Coteaux de la Loire, Sèvre et Maine;
- Wines from Anjou-Saumur with AOC Anjou, Anjou-Coteaux de la Loire, Anjou-Villages, Anjou- Villages Brissac, Bonnezeaux, Cabernet d’Anjou, Coteaux de l’Aubance, Coteaux de Saumur, Coteaux du Layon, Coulée de Serrant, Haut-Poitou, Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru, Rosé d’Anjou, Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, Savennières, Savennières Roche aux Moines, Crémant de Loire and Rosé de Loire;
- Wines from the Touraine region which is the birthplace of AOC Bourgueil, Cheverny, Chinon, Coteaux du Loir, Coteaux du Vendômois, Cour-Cheverny, Jasnières, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Orléans, Orléans-Cléry, Saint-Nicolas-de- Bourgueil, Touraine, Touraine-Noble-Joué, Valençay, Vouvray, Crémant de Loire and Rosé de Loire.
The Loire Valley wine region is undeniably extremely varied due to its unique terroir and weather patterns, which range from Atlantic to continental. Loire Valley wines display distinctive fruity aromas, irrespective of whether they are red or white.